Nassau County // is an affluent suburban county on Long Island, immediately east of New York City in the U.S. state of New York, within the New York Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,339,532. The name of the county comes from an old name for Long Island, which was at one time named Nassau, after the Dutch Prince William of Nassau, Prince of Orange (who later also ruled as King William III of England). The county colors, orange, and blue, are also the colors of the House of Orange. Nassau's county seat is located in the village of Garden City, within the Mineola 11501 zip code.
Nassau, together with Suffolk County to its immediate east, are generally referred to as "Long Island" by area residents—as distinct from the New York City boroughs of Queens (Queens County) and Brooklyn (Kings County), which are geographically located on the island's westernmost end. Two cities, three towns, 64 incorporated villages, and more than 60 unincorporated hamlets are located within the county. The U.S. Postal Service has organized Nassau County into 111 different 5-digit ZIP codes served by 67 postal address names. There are 56 public school districts within the county. Post office districts and school districts use the same names as a city, hamlet, or village within them, but each sets the boundaries independently.
In 2012, Forbes magazine, in an article based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, reported that Nassau County was the 12th richest county in America and the highest in the State of New York, with a median household annual income of about $91,000.
Several alternate names had been considered for the county, including "Bryant", "Matinecock" (a village within the county currently has that name), "Norfolk" (presumably because of the proximity to Suffolk County), and "Sagamore". However, "Nassau" had the historical advantage of having at one time been the name of Long Island itself, and was the name most mentioned after the new county was proposed in 1875.
The area now designated Nassau County was originally the eastern 70% of Queens County, one of the original 12 counties formed in 1683, and was then contained within two towns: Hempstead and Oyster Bay. Nassau County was formed in 1899 by the division of Queens County, after the western portion of Queens had become a borough of New York City in 1898.
When the first European settlers arrived, among the Native Americans to occupy the present area of Nassau County were the Marsapeque, Matinecoc, and Sacatogue. Dutch settlers in New Netherland predominated in the western portion of Long Island, while English settlers from Connecticut occupied the eastern portion. Until 1664, Long Island was split, roughly at the present border between Nassau and Suffolk counties, between the Dutch in the west and Connecticut claiming the east. The Dutch did grant an English settlement in Hempstead (now in western Nassau), but drove settlers from Oyster Bay (now in eastern Nassau) as part of a boundary dispute. In 1664, all of Long Island became part of the English Province of New York within the Shire of York. Present-day Queens and Nassau were then just part of a larger North Riding. In 1683, Yorkshire was dissolved, Suffolk County and Queens County were established, and the local seat of government was moved west from Hempstead to Jamaica (now in New York City). By 1700, very little of Long Island had not been purchased from the native Indians by the English colonists, and townships controlled whatever land had not already been distributed.
The courthouse in Jamaica was torn down by the British during the American Revolution to use the materials to build barracks. In 1784, following the American Revolutionary War, the Town of Hempstead was split in two, when Patriots in the northern part formed the new Town of North Hempstead, leaving Loyalist majorities in the Town of Hempstead. About 1787, a new Queens County Courthouse was erected (and later completed) in the new Town of North Hempstead, near present-day Mineola (now in Nassau County), known then as Clowesville.
The Long Island Rail Road reached as far east as Hicksville in 1837, but did not proceed to Farmingdale until 1841 due to the Panic of 1837. The 1850 census was the first in which the population of the three western towns (Flushing, Jamaica, and Newton) exceeded that of the three eastern towns that are now part of Nassau County. Concerns were raised about the condition of the old courthouse and the inconvenience of travel and accommodations, with the three eastern and three western towns divided on the location for the construction of a new one. Around 1874, the seat of county government was moved to Long Island City from Mineola. As early as 1875, representatives of the three eastern towns began advocating the separation of the three eastern towns from Queens, with some proposals also including the towns of Huntington and Babylon (in Suffolk County).
In 1898, the western portion of Queens County became a borough of the City of Greater New York, leaving the eastern portion a part of Queens County but not part of the Borough of Queens. As part of the city consolidation plan, all town and county governments within the borough were dissolved. The areas excluded from the consolidation included all of the Town of North Hempstead, all of the Town of Oyster Bay, and most of the Town of Hempstead (excluding the Rockaway Peninsula, which was separated from the Town of Hempstead and became part of the city borough). In 1899, following approval from the New York State Legislature, the three towns were separated from Queens County, and the new county of Nassau was constituted.
In preparation for the new county, in November 1898, voters had selected Mineola to become the county seat for the new county (before Mineola incorporated as a village in 1906 and set its boundaries almost entirely within the Town of North Hempstead), winning out over Hicksville and Hempstead. The Garden City Company (founded in 1893 by the heirs of Alexander Turney Stewart) donated four acres of land for the county buildings in the town of Hempstead, just south of the Mineola train station and the present day village of Mineola. The land and the buildings have a Mineola postal address, but are within the present day Village of Garden City, which did not incorporate, nor set its boundaries, until 1919.
In 1917, the village of Glen Cove was granted a city charter, making it independent from the Town of Oyster Bay. In 1918, the village of Long Beach was incorporated in the Town of Hempstead. In 1922, it became a city, making it independent of the town. These are the only two cities in Nassau County.
From the early 1900s until the Depression and the early 1930s, many hilly farmlands on the North Shore were transformed into luxurious country estates for wealthy New Yorkers, with the area receiving the nickname "the Gold Coast" and becoming the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. One summer resident of the Gold Coast was President Theodore Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill. In 1908, William Kissam Vanderbilt constructed the Long Island Motor Parkway as a toll road through Nassau County. With overpasses and bridges to remove intersections, it was among the first limited access motor highways in the world, and was also used as a racecourse to test the capabilities of the fledgling automobile industry.
Nassau County, with its extensive flat land, was the site of many aviation firsts. Military aviators for both World Wars were trained on the Hempstead Plains, and a number of successful aircraft companies were established. Charles Lindberg took off for Paris from Roosevelt Field in 1927, completing the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from the United States. Grumman (which in 1986 employed 23,000 people on Long Island) built many planes for World War II, and later contributed the Apollo Lunar Module to the Space program.
The United Nations Security Council was temporarily located in Nassau County from 1946 to 1951. Council meetings were held at the Sperry Gyroscope headquarters in the village of Lake Success near the border with Queens County. It was here on June 27, 1950, that the Security Council voted to back U.S. President Harry S Truman and send a coalition of forces to the Korean Peninsula, leading to the Korean War.
Until World War II, most of Nassau County was still farmland, particularly in the eastern portion. Following the war, the county saw an influx of people from the five boroughs of New York City, especially from Brooklyn and Queens, who left their urban dwellings for a more suburban setting. This led to a massive population boom in the county. In 1947, William Levitt built his first planned community in Nassau County, in the Island Trees section (later renamed Levittown). (This should not be confused with the county's first planned community, in general, which is Garden City.) While in the 1930s, Robert Moses had engineered curving parkways and parks such as Jones Beach State Park and Bethpage State Park for the enjoyment of city-dwellers, in the 1950s and 1960s the focus turned to alleviating commuter traffic.
In 1994, Federal Judge Arthur Spatt declared the Nassau County Board of Supervisors unconstitutional and directed that a 19-member legislature be formed. Republicans won 13 seats in the election and chose Bruce Blakeman as the first Presiding Officer (Speaker). Among the first class were current legislators Peter J. Schmitt, Judith Jacobs, John Ciotti, Dennis Dunne Sr., Francis X. Becker, Vincent T. Muscarella, and current County Executive, Ed Mangano.
According to a Forbes magazine 2012 survey, residents of Nassau County have the 12th highest median household annual income in the country and the highest in the state. In the 1990s, however, Nassau County saw huge budget problems, forcing the county to near bankruptcy. Thus, the county government increased taxes to prevent a takeover by the state of New York, leading to the county having high property taxes. Nevertheless, on January 27, 2011, a New York State oversight board seized control of Nassau County’s finances, saying the wealthy and heavily taxed county had failed to balance its $2.6 billion budgets.
Nassau County occupies a portion of Long Island immediately east of the New York City borough of Queens. It is divided into two cities and three towns, the latter of which contain 64 villages and numerous hamlets.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 453 square miles (1,173 km²) of which 287 square miles (743 km²) of it is land and 166 square miles (431 km²) of it (36.72%) is water.
Between the 1990 census and the 2000 census, the county exchanged territory with Suffolk County and lost territory to Queens County. Dozens of CDPs had boundaries changed, and 12 new CDPs were listed.
Nassau County has a climate similar to other coastal areas of the Northeastern United States; it has warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. The county is classified as humid subtropical by some definitions. The Atlantic Ocean helps bring afternoon sea breezes that temper the heat in the warmer months and limit the frequency and severity of thunderstorms. Nassau County has a moderately sunny climate, averaging between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually.
National protected areasEdit
As of the 2010 census, there were 1,339,532 people, 448,528 households, and 340,523 families residing in the county. The population density was 4,655 people per square mile (1,797/km²). There were 468,346 housing units at an average density of 1,598 per square mile (617/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 73.0% White (65.5% non-Hispanic White), 11.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 7.6% Asian (3.0% Indian, 1.8% Chinese, 1.0% Korean, 0.7% Filipino, 0.1% Japanese, 0.1% Vietnamese, 0.9% Other Asian), 0.03% Pacific Islander, 5.6% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.6% of the population.
In 2010, there were 340,523 family households, out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.0% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.38. The population was 23.3% under the age of 18, and 18.7% who were 62 years of age or older. The median age was 41.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
As of 2011, there were about 230,000 Jewish people in Nassau County, representing 17.2% of the population, (as compared to 2% of the total U.S. population). Italian Americans make up a large portion of Nassau. The top 5 ancestries are 23% Italian, 14% Irish, 7% German, 5% American and 4% Polish. The county's population was highest as of the 1970 Census.
The median income for a household in the county in 2000 was $72,030, and the median income for a family was $81,246 (these figures had risen to $87,658 and $101,661 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $52,340 versus $37,446 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,151. About 3.50% of families and 5.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.80% of those under age 18 and 5.60% of those age 65 or over.
The New York Times cited a 2002 study by the non-profit group ERASE Racism, which determined that Nassau, and its neighboring county, Suffolk, are the most de facto racially segregated suburbs in the United States.
More recently, a Little India has emerged in Hicksville, while rapidly growing Chinatowns have developed in Brooklyn and Queens and have spread into Nassau County. The Long Island Koreatown (롱 아일랜드 코리아타운) originated in Flushing, Queens before sprawling eastward along Northern Boulevard and eventually into Nassau County.
Law and governmentEdit
The head of the county's governmental structure is the County Executive, a post created in Nassau County in 1938. The current county executive is Ed Mangano, a Republican who was elected in an upset victory over the prior County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi in 2009. The District Attorney is Democrat Kathleen Rice, who in November 2005 defeated 30-year incumbent Republican Denis Dillon in an upset victory. The county comptroller is George Maragos, a Republican, the county clerk is Republican Maureen O'Connell, and the county assessor is an appointed position who serves at the pleasure of the County Executive.
The Comptroller of Nassau County is the chief fiscal officer and chief auditing officer of the County who presides over the Nassau County Comptroller's Office. The comptroller is elected, countywide, to a four-year term and has no term limit. The current comptroller is Republican George Maragos. Maragos was elected on November 3, 2009. Comptroller Maragos serves as the fiscal watchdog for Nassau County, which has a population of 1.3 million and annual budget of $2.6 billion. Comptroller Maragos and his staff monitor Nassau’s budget and financial operations, audit government agencies and agencies with county contracts to uncover waste and abuse, review county contracts and claims, report on matters that significantly affect Nassau’s financial health and operations, work with the Administration and Legislature to help the county overcome its fiscal challenges, prepare Nassau’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and administer the county payroll and employee health benefits functions. The Comptroller's Office includes the Departments of Accounting, Field Audit, Payroll & Benefits, and Claims.
County police services are provided by the Nassau County Police Department. The cities of Glen Cove and Long Beach, as well as a number of villages, are not members of the county police district and maintain their own police forces. The following village police departments exist in Nassau County: Centre Island, Floral Park, Freeport, Garden City, Great Neck Estates, Hempstead, Kensington, Kings Point, Lake Success, Lynbrook, Malverne, Muttontown, Old Brookville (Old Brookville P.D. provides police protection for Old Brookville, Brookville, Upper Brookville, Matinecock, Mill Neck and Cove Neck), Old Westbury, Oyster Bay Cove, Rockville Centre and Sands Point. The Port Washington Police Department is not a village department but is authorized by a special district, the only such district in New York State . These smaller forces, however, make use of such specialized county police services as the police academy and the aviation unit. Also, all homicides in the county are investigated by the county police, regardless of whether or not they occur within the police district.
On June 1, 2011, the Muttontown Police Department commenced operations. The Old Brookville Police formerly provided police services to the Village of Muttontown.
In 2006, village leaders in the county seat of Mineola expressed dissatisfaction with the level of police coverage provided by the county force and actively explored seceding from the police district and having the village form its own police force. A referendum on December 5, 2006, however, decisively defeated the proposal.
Since the Long Island State Parkway Police was disbanded in 1980, all of Nassau County's state parkways have been patrolled by Troop L of the New York State Police. State parks in Nassau are patrolled by the New York State Park Police. In 1996, the Long Island Rail Road Police Department was consolidated into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police. The MTA Police patrol Long Island Rail Road tracks, stations and properties. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police provides enforcement of state environmental laws and regulations. The State University of New York Police provides enforcement for SUNY Old Westbury.
The Nassau County Police Department posts the mug shots of DWI offenders as press releases on their website. This practice has come under the scrutiny of residents, media, and those pictured in these press releases. This practice has been criticized as being able to cost potential employees, students, or public figures their positions.
The Nassau County Auxiliary Police are a unit of the Nassau County Police Department. These volunteer police officers are assigned to 1 of 38 local community units and perform routine patrols of the neighborhood and provide traffic control for local parades, races and other community events.
Auxiliary Police officers are empowered to make arrests for crimes that occur in their presence.
Nassau County Auxiliary Police are required to complete a 37 week training course at the Nassau County Police Academy and qualified officers are also offered Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training.
Auxiliary Police officers are certified by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) as "Peace Officers" and are registered as peace officers in the NYS DCJS registry of peace officers.
These officers are represented by the Auxiliary Police Benevolent Association of Long Island.
Nassau County is currently protected and served by 71 independent volunteer or combination paid/volunteer fire departments, organized into 9 Battalions.
Like neighboring Suffolk County, Nassau County residents primarily supported the Republican Party in national elections until the 1990s. That decade, it began to shift toward the Democratic Party. Democrat Bill Clinton carried the county in the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996. Later Nassau voters gave a large margin of victory to Al Gore in 2000 (19.4%), but John Kerry's winning margin in 2004 was considerably slimmer (5.6%). In that election, Kerry won the towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead, but lost the Town of Oyster Bay.
Democratic strength is chiefly concentrated in the central, certain southern areas, and northern part of the county. This includes the south eastern Village of Freeport which is roughly sixty-eight percent Democrat, central areas near the Village of Hempstead and Uniondale, where there are large middle-class populations as well as the affluent northern half of the county. This includes Great Neck, Glen Cove and Roslyn. There are also staunch Democratic pockets in the equally affluent Five Towns area in the southwest part of the county and in Long Beach.
Republican voters are chiefly concentrated in the more suburban areas of the county. The middle class southeastern portion of the county is heavily Republican, and communities such as Massapequa, Seaford, Wantagh, Levittown, Bethpage, and Farmingdale are the political base of Congressman Peter T. King. In the western portion of the county, wealthy Garden City is solidly Republican, as is the more middle-class community of Floral Park.
Long Island's only Republican member of Congress, Representative Peter T. King, is from Nassau County. His 3rd District includes heavily populated suburban neighborhoods like Long Beach, Massapequa, Levittown, Hicksville, Seaford, Wantagh, and Farmingdale. But Nassau County is also home to the popular gun control advocate, Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, whose 4th District includes Garden City, Carle Place, Hempstead, Uniondale, East Meadow, Valley Stream, Franklin Square, West Hempstead and portions of the Village of Freeport and Rockville Centre. McCarthy defeated Republican congressman Dan Frisa in 1996 and has held the seat since.
Nassau County's other two congressmen are both Democrats. Representative Gary Ackerman represents the 5th District, which includes the northwestern part of the county, including Great Neck, Sands Point, and Port Washington, and stretches into northeastern Queens. Steve Israel's 2nd District is mainly in Suffolk County, but also includes parts of Plainview, Old Bethpage, Jericho, Syosset, and Woodbury in Nassau County.
All of Nassau County's state senators were Republicans until February 2007 when Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson was elected to the State Senate in a special election in the 7th district. The Democrats added another seat during the 2008 election, so the Republicans now have a 7–2 advantage in the State Senate on Long Island. The two Democratic seats though were regained by the GOP in the fall of 2010. Long Island's nine state senators became Republican again at the start of the 2011–2012 legislative term in January 2011. With Craig Johnson's loss to Jack Martins, the Senate also once has a GOP majority.
Colleges and universitiesEdit
Nassau County is home to numerous colleges and universities, including Adelphi University, Molloy College, Briarcliffe College, New York Institute of Technology, SUNY Old Westbury, Nassau Community College, Hofstra University, C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University, United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Webb Institute.
Nassau County is home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League, who play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. However, it has been announced that for the 2015 season, the Islanders will be moving to Brooklyn and will play at the Barclays Center.
It is also the home of F.C. New York of the United Soccer Leagues which folded after their inaugural season, and the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse. Long Island also has its own professional baseball team, Long Island Ducks.
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